How much have teachers and their pupils benefitted from the top-down Westminster-led control of policy held in place by a powerful national inspection regime?

A Generation of Radical Educational Change: Stories from the Field is an exploration of the revolutionary impact of the greater and continuing involvement of central government in education policy-making which began in 1976 and was accelerated by the 1988 Education Act and subsequent legislation.

In the book, a dozen distinguished contributors from a wide range of sectors explain and reflect on how they worked to do their best for their schools, teachers and pupils in these years of great change. They understand the reasons, explained by Lord Baker in his early chapter, for a National Curriculum in 1988, and also the reasons for a more effective national inspection system. Yet their stories accumulate to become a powerful critique of the top-down policies of the last two decades. These policies have been too numerous, short-term, incoherent and partisan; governments have been indifferent to professional opinion and serious research, and have relied excessively on measurable outcomes and simplistic Ofsted judgments. Our current system is narrower and less democratic than it was, but evidence is hard to find that English pupils are doing any better in international comparisons.

The combined reflections in this volume are timely in these years of lively educational debate as are the suggestions for future policy. A Generation of Radical Educational Change is an invaluable read for current and aspiring headteachers, policy makers and those with an interest in education policy and how it evolves.

part 1|25 pages


chapter 1|15 pages

History and Overview of Changes 1976–2014

ByMartin Roberts, Richard Pring

chapter 2|8 pages

The Revolution Begins

ByKenneth Baker

part 2|53 pages


chapter 3|15 pages

The Early Years

ByWendy Scott

chapter 4|12 pages

Primary Education

Can we escape the legacy of elementary education?
ByTony Eaude

chapter 5|13 pages

Secondary Education 1976–2015

A shire county view
ByMartin Roberts

chapter 6|11 pages

A View from the Island

A very personal story
ByKenny Frederick

part 3|43 pages

Higher and further education

chapter 7|14 pages

Evolution of Teacher Training and Professional Development

ByRichard Pring

chapter 8|12 pages

The Evolving Idea of a University

ByRichard Pring

chapter 9|15 pages

Further Education and the Case for Vocational Preparation

ByGeoff Stanton

part 4|29 pages

Accountability, examinations, qualifications

chapter 10|14 pages


The need to ‘do nothing'
ByTim Oates

chapter 11|13 pages

Accountability and Inspection

ByPat O'Shea

part 5|41 pages

Reflection on policy matters

chapter 12|15 pages

From ‘Optimism and Trust’ to ‘Markets and Managerialism’

ByTim Brighouse

chapter 13|12 pages


A shifting landscape
ByMargaret Maden

chapter 14|13 pages


Towards the nationalisation of education in England
ByPeter Newsam

part 6|10 pages

Role of the media

chapter 15|9 pages

Media and Education in the UK

ByPeter Wilby

part 7|14 pages


chapter 16|5 pages

Stories from the Field – Summarised

ByRichard Pring, Martin Roberts

chapter 17|7 pages

The Way Forward for the Next Generation

ByRichard Pring, Martin Roberts